I have just returned from Melbourne and the B for Bad Cinema Conference held at Monash University. The idea of Bad Cinema, and indeed the broad judgement of ‘badness’, is a fascinating theme for a conference and the range of papers and lectures explored ideas of quality and perception in all manner of forms.
The conference overview ran like this:
- “B for BAD cinema: aesthetics, politics and cultural value. Over the past decade, paracinema – a movement that has grown up around sleazy, excessive, or poorly executed B-movies – has seen a counter-cultural valorisation of all forms of cinematic trash or ‘badfilm.’ In many internet and print sources devoted to the celebration of paracinema, the term B-movie has (in contrast to its earlier studio-era sense) come to mean almost anything: disreputable and unworthy movies, low-budget exploitation movies, straight to TV or video movies, and even big-budget studio movies.”
Certainly there were recurring topics - Zombies and b-grade horror films being certainly one - but what was particularly interesting was that there were very few (in fact I witnessed only one) where the presenter was content with declaring a film actually ‘Bad’ rather than defending its badness as a misguided or misunderstood ‘goodness’.
The major Melbourne broadsheet paper - The Age - reported on the conference with the article - Films so bad they’re good to talk about
For my part I presented on a topic directly stemming form my current study and writing -
Bad Cinema’s Virtual Camera: Gaming, cinema aesthetics and the audacity of immaturity:
Cinema in the 21st century has never struggled so profoundly with the breadth of its definition. With an umbrella as broad as the ‘art of the screen-based moving image’ the door is left wide open for all manner of media, and mediums, to invade the cinematic canon and turn good cinema, bad. Foremost among these is 3D gaming; the immaturity of gung-ho adolescence trouncing through the china cabinet of mature cinema and cinematography.
Is the aesthetic result of gaming as cinema simply bad-cinema stemming from immature and unsophisticated cinematography and screen language? Does the virtual camera of game aesthetics commit crimes against the mise en scene and relegate gaming to a second rate cinematic art in need of ‘growing up’?
Or is there artful genius in the bad cinema and bad cinematography of gaming that threatens to reshape our cinema language with its audacity? Is the bad cinematography of gaming the best thing too happen to cinema?
I recorded the presentation and have it made it availible as an enhanced m4a version with embedded slides from the lecture.